Science Education: Critical approaches to Curriculum and Pedagogy

Home/ Science Education: Critical approaches to Curriculum and Pedagogy
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSES2031084

Semester Offered: Semesters III or IV (Monsoon/Winter)

Course Coordinator: Dr. Manasi Thapliyal Navani

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Introductory level courses on curriculum or pedagogy

Course Objectives:

  • To enable critical engagement with curricular, pedagogical and assessment perspectives and approaches in science education.
  • To enable a critical review of research and debates within science education.
  • To develop reflexivity and enable appreciation of critical research issues in science education.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a situated understanding of issues related to nature of learning, cognition and knowledge construction in the context of science education
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with alternative pedagogical approaches for effective science education
  3. Critically analyze and demonstrate engagement with key debates and research on curricular/pedagogic practices in science education
  4. Demonstrate critical thinking and research writing skills.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This course focuses on curricular, pedagogical, and assessment issues in science education, particularly at the elementary school level. It addresses the questions of: How do students most effectively learn science at elementary stage?; How can we facilitate this learning process as instructors and educators?; How do we best assess whether such learning is happening? We focus, in particular, on: nature of science and science education; students’ conceptual development and conceptual change; alternate pedagogical and assessment approaches, such as inquiry oriented and collaborative learning; and practical issues encountered when engaging in responsive, interactive teaching.

Module 1 How children learn science?

The focus of this module is on: Concept Formation; Alternative conceptions; Negotiation that alter the alternative concepts; Movement from everyday concepts to scientific concepts. What kind of scientific knowledge gets ‘constructed’ in the science classroom, and how teachers can address and build upon alternative conceptions as a pedagogical tool.

Module 2 Nature of Science and Science Education

This module will help students to engage with the nature of science (through examples and debates from the history and philosophy of science) and implications for curriculum, pedagogical and assessment practices in school science education.

The focus of this module is on:

  • Nature of scientific knowledge: Scientific Method; Scientific temper as an educational outcome and implications for pedagogy of school science;
  • Explaining science in classroom: conceptual objects, pedagogical content knowledge and scientific explanation.

Module 3 Teaching of Science: Perspectives and Pedagogical Approaches

This module will focus on the different curricular perspectives and pedagogical approaches explored across the globe for effective science teaching and learning at elementary and secondary stage of education. Students will be expected to engage in-depth with any one of the approaches and review the different perspectives as part of project work for the course.

Module 4 Assessment Practices for Effective Learning

This module explores different assessment strategies in school science. Students will be encouraged to explore and review the extended body of research on alternative conceptions, belief system and process assessment of student learning in school science. The focus will be on the following themes:

  • Nature and purpose of assessment in school science
  • Assessing children’s learning: Possibilities and challenges (Process and Product orientations)
  • Different types of assessment (formative/summative: norm/criterion-referencing based criteria for comparison); Assessment of Learning/ Assessment for Learning

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Memo on assigned theme: 30%
  • Project-study and presentation: 30% + 10%
  • End-Term Submission: 30%

Reading List:

(The extended reading list will be shared during the Course Orientation)

Module 1

  • Driver, R. and Bell, B. (1986). Students’ thinking and learning of science: A constructivist view. School Science Review, 67 (240), 443-56.
  • Driver, R. and Erikson, G. (1983). Theories-in-action: Some theoretical and empirical issues in the study of students’ conceptual frameworks in science. Studies in Science Education, 10, 37-60.
  • Sandoval, W.A. (2003). Conceptual and epistemic aspects of students’ scientific explanations. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 12 (1), 5-51
  • Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Mortimer, E., and Scott, P. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational Researcher, 23 (7), 5-12.

Module 2

  • Millar, R. (1994). What is scientific method and can it be taught? In R. Levinson (Ed.),
  • Teaching science. London: Open University Press.
  • Norris, S.P. (1992). Practical reasoning in the production of scientific knowledge. In Duschl, R.A. and Hamilton, R.J. (eds.), Philosophy of science, cognitive psychology and educational theory and practice (pp. 195-225). Albany, NY: State University of New York.
  • Ogborn, J., Kress, G., Martins, I. and McGillicuddy, K. (1996). Explaining science in the classroom. Buckingham: Open University Press. (Chapter 3, 4).

Module 3 (Project Study will entail review of one of the approaches referred to in the research studies listed below)

  • Wellington, J.J. (1981). ‘What's supposed to happen, sir?’ Some problems with discovery learning. School Science Review, 63(222), 167-73.
  • Campbell, R., Lazonby. J., Nicoloson, P., Ramsden, J., and Waddington, D. (1994). Science: The salters approach: A case study of the process of large scale curriculum development. Science Education, 78(5), 415-47.
  • Aikenhead, G. S. and Solomon, J. (Eds.). (1994). STS education: International perspectives on reform. New York: Teachers College Press. (Chapter 2).
  • Wang, H. A. and Schmidt, W. H. (2001). History, philosophy and sociology of science in science education: Results from the third international mathematics and science study. In F. Bevilacqua, E. Giannetto, and M.R. Mathews, (eds.). Science education and culture: The contribution of history and philosophy of science. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp.83-102.
  • Millar, R., & Driver, R. (1987). Beyond process. Studies in Science Education, 14, 33-62.
  • Mayoh, K. and Knutton, S. (1997) Using out-of-school experiences in science lessons: Reality or rhetoric? International Journal of Science Education, 19 (7), 849-67.
  • Atkinson, P. and Delamont, S. (1976). Mock-ups and cock-ups: The stage management of guided discovery instruction. In M. Hammersley and P. Woods (eds.), The process of schooling (pp. 133-142). London: Routledge
  • Hodson, D. (1993). Re-thinking the old ways: Towards a more critical approach to practical work in school science. Studies in Science Education, 22, 85-142.

Module 4

  • Daws, N. and Singh, B. (1999). Formative assessment strategies in secondary science.
  • School Science Review, 80 (293), 71-78.
  • Bangert-Drowns, R., Kulik, C., Kulik, J. and Morgan, M. (1991). Effects of frequent classroom testing. Journal of Educational Research, 85, 89-99.
  • Gott, R. and Welford, G. (1987). The assessment of observation in science. School Science Review, 69 (247), 217-227.
  • Fairbrother, B., Black, P. and Gill, P. (1995). Teachers assessing pupils: Lessons from the science classroom. Hatfield: Association for Science Education. (Excerpts to be used for class discussions).